Sal Klita Blogger | Muzik impressions

Sal Klita Blogger

Tuesday, January 20

Spaced out noisy garage psychedelic drone rock...The TELESCOPES - Singles Compilation 1989-1991

"The Perfect Needle" 
"Sadness Pale" 
"You Can Not Be Sure" 

Formed in 1987, the Telescopes first release was a split with Loop oddly enough, a flexi disc released with a fanzine, pretty auspicious beginning for sure, yet ever since, they have constantly and continually been overshadowed by their drone rock brothers in arms Spacemen 3 and Loop. Which is weird considering how similar their sounds are. Similar they may have been, but the Telescopes always seemed much more rocking and heavy and WAY more noisy that either, but were definitely not averse to the occasional blissed out Spacemen style druggy drift, or some metallic Loop-ed pound. But those moments were scattered amidst a minefield of amp destroying ear drum splitting spaced out noise rock, with a definite grunge element. Re-listening to these tracks now, it definitely sounds like the seeds that spawned Mudhoney and some of the more raw and rocking early Sub Pop bands.

Pretty much every Telescopes record is worth owning, but this singles collection is especially transcendent, gathering up some of their earliest singles, which means raw and lo-fi, and fuzz drenched, and noisy as fuck and gloriously poppy, and HEAVY, always on the verge of total collapse. Killer hooks doused in distortion, verse chorus verse imploding into a squall of psychguitar freakout and total off-kilter drum damage. Every space filled up with wild streaks of lightning bold feedback, drums and guitar locked into killer stop start grooves, the vocals drenched in distortion, yowling and growling, some serious Stooges infused space rock garage mayhem. But the band did mellow a bit as time went on, so the second half of the disc offers up another side of the band, groovy tripped out almost paisley sounding sixties jangle drift, pretty strummed soft pop, blissy shoegazey shuffle, lush Beatlesesque shimmer, but still plenty of warbly organ, some surprising banjo, fuzzy reverb, everything in a softly druggy haze. 

We reviewed the Telescopes Altered Perception record a while back, another collection of sorts, and while the first two tracks are indeed the same, those are the only two tracks to be found on both. Which means not only is THIS essential, but odds are you're probably gonna want that one too. Cuz as far as we're concerned you can never have too much blurry and buzzy and druggy spaced out noisy garage-y psychedelic drone rock in your life. EVER. By Aqurius records.

Softly druggy haze...STARS OF THE LID - Music For Nitrous Oxide

"Tape Hiss Makes Me Happy" 

Before there were a million 'drone' records, before every other person had their own cd-r drone music label, before anyone with a computer and a cd burner had their own 'drone project', and well before all it took was holding down a few keys on a keyboard or leaning a guitar against an amplifier to become an underground sensation, there was Stars Of The Lid. Armed with little more than a couple guitars, some effects and a four track, the duo of Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie were capable of crafting incredibly lush and expansive dronescapes unlike anything we'd ever heard. 

Quietly channeling the druggy drift of Spacemen 3, the blissful ambience of Brian Eno and the processed guitar based landscapes of post-Loop project Main, the duo conjured up long sprawling expanses of near static guitar drift, crumbling distortion and shimmering feedback sculpted into billowing stretches of soft swirling sound. Sites set high, even their early works aspired to the modern minimalism they would eventually master, but well before the group enlisted extra players and string sections and incorporated flutes and pianos and began crafting multi movement minimal epics, equal parts Arvo Part and Morton Feldman, the band's sound was much more raw and immediate, much more lo-fi, but somehow managing to sound lush at the same time, music so perfectly crafted it seemed to transcend its source. A gorgeous, living organic world of sound, evocative and cinematic, dark and brooding, soft and utterly beautiful.

Originally released way back in 1995, Music For Nitrous Oxide was the very first Stars Of The Lid release, and it's sound can be summed up by one of the song titles: "Tape Hiss Makes Me Happy". Apparently, so did strange samples, bizarre snippets of dialogue, and most importantly, thick smears of distorted guitar. Total bedroom ambient bliss, but light on the 'ambient', the music on Nitrous Oxide is anything but ambient, it moves and flows and buzzes and howls, the sound is not smooth, it's raw and rough, distorted and warped, the production low on fidelity, but heavy on hazy, gauzy, washed out shimmer. This is almost like the sound of old SUNNO))) records, with all the distortion removed. Slow motion riffage, unfurling lazily into thick tendrils of dark melody, textures and timbres stretched and smeared and smoothed and blurred, tape hiss everywhere, but instead of an impediment, the hiss is alive, swirling and undulating, another layer of warm whir, giving the sounds more texture and more grit. There is percussion, but it sounds like someone tapping on the body of the guitar, then slathering it in reverb and delay. 

The sounds of trains and cars driving by surface here and there, as do bursts of radio and short wave interference, but the core of all these pieces is delicately and perfectly arranged bits of guitar, whether they be looped streaks of whispery high end, or deep rumbling slabs of crumbling low end, the guitars are looped and repeated and all tangled up with other complimentary loops, allowed to spread out, to expand, to fill up the speakers and overflow, or to trickle out like a summer stream. 

The sound shifts from hushed whisper to thick dense almost chaotic swirl, often in the same song. Deep bell like tones drift in wide open expanses of dreamily dramatic soft focus buzz, thick, super distorted guitar buzz is wound around a simple barely there drum beat, cymbals sizzle in a thick roiling black sea of disembodied and fragmented riffage, while elsewhere rubbery low end warbles beneath strange creaks and scrapes, swallowed whole by the occasional wash of blurred distorted buzz, and finally the sound of rainfall surrounds deep lush rumbling chords as they create an almost choral drone for perhaps one of the most moving pieces of drone music ever, certainly an impossibly perfect way to end the record.

Captivating, mesmerizing, one minute soft and shimmery, the next dense and heavy, but always perfect, always personal and intimate, always mysterious and utterly magical. The name Stars Of The Lid comes from the strange images you see when you close your eyes, electrical impulses, mysterious shapes and textures, and never has a name so perfectly reflected the sound of the band so named, and rarely, has band so perfectly represented something so ineffable in sound. Practically perfect. And absolutely essential. By Aquarius records